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Pardesi Girl

When American rapper Timbaland was looking for an Indian voice for his 2007 album Shock Value,he turned to British Indian singer Amar Dhanjan.

Written by Suanshu Khurana |
March 15, 2009 2:20:14 am

Meet the British Indian singer who’s floored Timbaland with her voice

When American rapper Timbaland was looking for an Indian voice for his 2007 album Shock Value,he turned to British Indian singer Amar Dhanjan. Now that sequel Shock Value: Volume 2 is ready to hit the shelves,Dhanjan is Timbaland’s choice again for another track. This makes the 28-year-old singer a name to watch out for among the many desis who throng the international R&B music scene. Dhanjan,on a visit to Mumbai,is also putting the finishing touches to her own second album,Show It Off,which is scheduled for a summer release.

Dhanjan found her music gene as a 14-year-old when her father Mangal Singh,a bhangra singer in UK popular for his Rail Gaddi track,first took her to a recording studio. Within minutes,the otherwise baffled teenager instinctively knew that music was what she wanted to do in her life. “I sang Dolly Parton’s I Will Always Love You and my father said that my voice could really work,” she recalls.

Two years later,fusion composer Talvin Singh felt the same way when he cast her in his album Anokha Soundz of the Asian Underground. “I sang a track called Jaan for Talvin after which I was approached by record producer Geoff Travis from Warner Brothers UK,” she says. This made her the first British Asian girl to be signed by a major record label— the result was Dhanjan’s first album Outside,composed by Nitin Sawhney and Robin Millar,which did well in the music charts.

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But things really sped up when she began collaborating with Timbaland. “Tim wanted to use a completely Indian voice in his album as he is really fond of Indian sounds. I first met him in his Virginia studio with rapper and musician Jim Beanz. It was right there that I penned down the Hindi lyrics of a song called Bombay and sang it to him. He loved it and we recorded it. Bombay became a part of Shock Value,” says Dhanjan,adding that Timbaland has a shelf full of RD Burman records. For Bombay,Timbaland did a wild fusion

of South Asian beats,Indian vocals and his signature soundboard style. “Never mind how odd the combination seems,Timbaland always knows how to turn knobs and make a track work,” says Dhanjan.

Shock Value went on to be a multi-platinum hit and the sequel is one of the most awaited albums of this year. Later,Timbaland also

featured Dhanjan’s sultry voice in his solo remixes of Nelly Furtado’s Maneater and Promiscuous Girl. Though she is tight-lipped about her work in Timbaland’s new album,she reveals that her own forthcoming album “is a blend of hip hop,R&B,drum ‘n’ bass,Hindi vocals and instruments,but it still won’t end up sounding fusion-heavy,” says Dhanjan. She has roped in Timbaland to do a special act in one of the tracks.

She is also homeward bound,she says. “I want to work in India. I have had a taste of music that is international,now I want to do some typical Bollywood music,” says Dhanjan. She’s in touch with Sonu Nigam and Shankar Ehsaan and Loy,confident her voice will work its magic again. We are all set to listen in.

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